Naming Diseases

The naming of diseases has evolved greatly from the time of calling the plague that sprouted black boils on the skin, “The Black Death,” partly due to the advancement of scientific technology and theory, but also due to the tendency of humans to overreact. Most humans, in a disaster or disease, will stay relatively calm and do what needs to be done to get through it faster. However, there is that minority which will refuse to help the situation at all, even if it’s only wearing a mask. During the swine flu epidemic pigs were slaughtered en masse for no other reason than people thought they were more at risk with pigs around. Now swine flu is called H1N1 and pigs just die for meat again. During the Spanish Influenza a combination of the distraction of World War One, and the fact that blame was placed upon the country for the virus, made it difficult for the Spanish to get any aid at all. Now in the present time calling the Covid-19 virus things like a “China-virus” have led to a massive spike in hate crimes against Asian Americans, the causation can’t be denied. Naming diseases after people, animals, or nations is a dangerous path to take because it links the two things in a person’s mind. When that link is established it’s obvious that the panic, fear, and anger, that a pandemic or all out plague causes can make people already prone to hatred or violence act on those feelings where they may otherwise have not. Naming a disease instead by a scientific name, the deeper meaning of which flies over the head of people like me, can remove some of the fear surrounding a virus and will all but eliminate any avoidable horrors the panic of a virus can cause.

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